A MelanieM Review: Soul to Keep (Rented Heart #2) by Garrett Leigh

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Recovering addict Jamie Yorke has returned to England from California. With no home or family to speak of, he sticks a pin in a map and finds a small town in the Derbyshire Peak District. Matlock Bath is a quiet place—he just needs to get there, keep his head down, and stay clean. Simple, right? Until a chance meeting on the flight home alters the course of his so-called life forever.

Ex-Army medic Marc Ramsey is recovering from life-changing combat injuries while pulling nights as a trauma specialist at th

e local hospital. Keeping busy is a habit he can’t quit, but when Jamie—so wild and beautiful—bursts into his life, working himself into the ground isn’t as compelling as it used to be.

Marc falls hard, but chaos lurks behind Jamie’s fragile facade. He’s winning his battle against addiction, but another old foe is slowly consuming him. Both men have weathered many storms, but the path to the peace they deserve might prove the roughest ride yet.

Soul to Keep  by Garrett Leigh literally brings together two wounded men.  One who’s back is a mass of scars, courtesy of a bad location for a ketamine binge and the other man’s is a ex Army and amputee, the loss received from a blast during his tour.  It’s the second in her Rented Hearts series and features a character we’ve met before, Jamie Yorke.

As the story opens Jamie is a recovering addict returning home to England after spending a year in rehab in California.  A pin in a map sends him to Matlock Bath and a new start.  However a chance meeting on a airplane with Marc Ramsey who comforts a frightened Jamie during a turbulent patch forms a tenuous bond even before Jamie lands.

Garrett Leigh is wonderful with hurt/comfort stories and wounded to the soul characters.  Soul to Keep is all of that.  Jamie is fighting more than just substance abuse issues.  He has undiagnosed mental health issues in the form of OCD and his inability to deal with that has driven him to abuse other substances.  Plus there’s his past as a rental boy and bad family life.  All of which the author lets us understand  by bringing us into Jamie’s mindset.  It’s a labyrinthine complex of  pain, needs, intelligence, and the search for love.  Jamie is trying to find his way and you are with him, hoping he will too.

Marc has other sorts of pain.  Ex-Army, he’s a doctor with a specialty in emergency surgery.  His experience came on tour.  When he meets Jamie, something in Jamie, the need to help as well as being attracted to him, forms a bond that asserts itself when they meet up again.  While, it happens quickly, Leigh somehow makes it a relationship where Marc and Jamie’s needs and wants mesh, that they recognize something in each other that pulls them close.

It’s not an easy relationship. It can’t be given these individuals and perhaps the story could have used additional length to strengthen their ties, especially given the severity of the issues being dealt with (Jamie’s OCD).  Highlighted here is also the difference between the American health system and the British one. At least in the length of time it takes to get appointments and such.  I already was aware of the as we have friends in the UK, but that point is made here as it takes Marc pulling strings to get Jamie an appointment with  a doctor.

All else involved, I was completely caught up in this romance and the establishment of their relationship.  I loved the epilogue at the end where we got to see the first couple again as well.  Rented Hearts is turning out to be a terrific series and I can’t wait to see where it goes next.  I definitely recommend Soul to Keep by Garrett Leigh and both Rented Hearts stories.

Cover art by Garrett Leigh is just what I would expect of the character and story.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 239 pages
Published April 2nd 2018 by Riptide Publishing
Original Title Soul to Keep (A Rented Heart Novel)
ISBN 1626496889 (ISBN13: 9781626496880)
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Rented Heart #2

A Lucy Review: Eyes Wide Open (Graves Brothers #1) by V.M. Sanford

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Rating: 3.5 Stars out of 5

Jason and Spencer have been best friends for years, in spite of the atrociousness of Spencer’s mother.  The family vineyard is all that matters.  Well, that and keeping Spencer under Mom’s thumb, doing exactly what she wants him to do.  What she wants right now is for him to marry Lydia, the daughter of a soon-to-be investor in the vineyard.  Despite Spencer’s lack of interest in marrying anyone female, he’s going along with it because it’s his mother and that’s what he does to keep the peace and try to make his family proud.  His father isn’t as in his face, mainly because his father interacts hardly at all. 

What Spencer does have is Jason and the amazing supportive of Jason’s large family.   A family who love and care about their members for who they are, getting involved sure but with only each person’s happiness in mind.  So it goes that Jason’s family thinks instead of being best man for Spencer’s wedding to Lydia, he should let Spencer know he’s in love with him and see what happens.  They believe Spencer loves Jason back and all will be well.   

Of course, things are never that simple, even after a personalized bachelor weekend in New York, going to Madison Square Garden and Central Park ends up with the two of them getting together, only to return to the same plan of marrying Lydia.  Jason’s brother, Kenny, is a favorite of mine now, and he tried to get Spencer to not be stupid.  “I told him he shouldn’t marry Lydia because he’s in love with you and you’re in love with him.”  And he understands the why of it, that Spencer tries to make everyone happy except himself.  I got Kenny’s frustration – Spencer is 33! It’s time to let go of Mommy Dearest’s expectations.

It got frustrating at time watching Spencer put up with amounts to emotional abuse from his mother and watch his father remain silent about it.  Spencer “…couldn’t disappoint her the way he would if he chose Jason.”   She has no interest in what Spencer wants or needs, just herself.  So frustrating! 

I appreciated that Lydia wasn’t portrayed as a bad person at all.  She really is another one sort of doing something to please her parents (in her case, her father) although it wasn’t anything like Spencer’s mother.  Jason’s family were interesting supporting characters, and in the case of Kenny especially, endearing.  Jason’s mom is as far from Spencer’s mom as could be, thank heavens.   I was pulling for Spencer to get his head out of the ground before it was too late.   I also liked that mother didn’t magically become kind or motherly, no matter what Spencer did because to me that would have felt false.  It was an interesting story with some exasperating moments! 

Cover art:  The cover models appeared the right ages for Jason and Spencer and could have been them.  I had a different vision for the vineyard, if only because the house seems so welcoming and inviting and I didn’t picture those parents living there.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1 edition, 156 pages
Published February 2nd 2018 by VM Sanford
Original Title Eyes Wide Open
ASINB079KGDNMP
Edition Language English
Series Graves Brothers #1

A MelanieM Review : Captain Merric by Rebecca Cohen

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

A tale of pirates, lost love, and the fight for a happy ending.

After he’s set adrift and left to die by his mutinous crew, the last person Royal Navy officer Daniel Horton expects to come to his rescue is Captain Merric. An infamous pirate, Merric is known as much for stealing his victims’ hearts as their jewels. Daniel’s world is about to be turned upside down when he recognises Captain Merric as none other than Edward Merriston, someone he thought he’d never see again.
Edward can’t believe Daniel Horton is aboard his ship. While Edward is willing to do anything he can to get a second chance at their happy ending, Daniel isn’t interested in digging up the past. But Daniel is one priceless treasure Captain Merric isn’t about to let go of without a fight.

Captain Merric first appeared as short story in a pirate-themed anthology. Now completely rewritten and extended he is ready to set sail again.

There’s nothing more fun than lust and love on the high seas so I was happy to sink into the new release Captain Merric by Rebecca Cohen.   I’ve enjoyed many of Rebecca Cohen’s historical romances in the past and this one turned out to be just as delightful.

It has not only a lusty pirate but one who turns out to be the the ex lover of Royal Navy officer Daniel Horton, one that Daniel had long thought dead.  Captain Merric, ne’ Edward Merriston, had also been laboring under some false assumptions about his old lover making their reunion highly emotional and  fraught with danger to them both.

I have always loved Cohen’s ability to bring her characters to life.  Whether they are shouting in anger, or trying to convince the man they have always loved to kiss him again, you believe in them.  And feel connected to them emotionally.  The story switches pov so you are able to see all the turmoil and actually fracturing of the foundation each man’s has built up over the years apart as the real story behind their separation comes out.  As this is going on, you get the glimpses into the pirate’s life that Edward has been living, quite happily as it seems.  From the island he lives on to the crew of his ship, we get the full picture of the man now called Captain Merric.

Poor Daniel Horton has lead a much colder, hard life and that is also left by the lack of explanation in the storyline.  It sort of works here.  But I wish that we would know if that contributes to the fact that none of his crew attempts to help him at the beginning of the book other than one person.  More of Daniel’s past would have made Daniel a more rounded character just as Edward was.

There are some things that, for the sake of the story, I just accepted, in terms of timing or coincidence, or just plain no I don’t think they would have accepted that.  But I was enjoying the story too much.  And I  loved the way the author got the men back together at the end.  What a lovely and downright sneaky touch.

When it comes down to it, I loved the characters, the writing flowed so smoothly that you were finished with the story before you realized it, the descriptions were colorful and made you see it clearly.  Ah, I just loved this romance!  I think you will too.  It’s definitely one I recommend.

 

Cover art:   Garrett Leigh @ Black Jazz Design did a wonderful job.  Pirates!  And yes that’s Captain Merric all right.

Sales Link: Universal Buy Link

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 200 pages
Published April 6th 2018 (first published August 14th 2011)
Original TitleCaptain Merric
ASINB07BLLY5HD
Edition Language English

An Alisa Review: Timtuk Canyon Ranch (Mojave Mountain Wolves #1) by A.J. Llewellyn

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

How do you join a mountain wolf pack when you’re afraid of heights?

When Smith Ryland develops a sudden, pathological fear of heights, he seeks professional help. A lifelong animal ecologist, he can no longer climb trees or trek through rainforests to follow the bird colonies he’s studied for eleven years. He takes a job looking after wild animals in the oddly named Timtuk Canyon Ranch, in the middle of California’s Mojave Desert. He’s astonished to find the ranch is in the mountains. How can he handle this unusual assignment? And what’s up with Jones, Just Jones, the mysterious, magnetic owner of the ranch?

Jones has secrets. Smith intrigues him because Jones is the caretaker of numerous animals most people don’t even know exist. Smith is comfortable with all the animals, including the ones that aren’t part of the…everyday world. Jones senses Smith needs the ranch as much as Timtuk needs him. Can Jones trust this newcomer? Something is changing, bringing with it…magic, but also the threat of lethal danger to Timtuk Canyon Ranch.

This story left me a bit confused.  Smith has been trying to get over his new fears and it seems to work out well after he accepts a new job.  Jones and Smith have an interesting connection that confuses Smith as Jones seems to appear and disappear at will.  Smith’s inner beast has been suppressed and being around Jones starts to bring it out along with some knowledge about his family.

There were so many things that didn’t add up during this story or were not explained, I had a little trouble figuring out what was going on.  I’m hoping that as this series continues I’ll start to understand more of what is happening.

The cover art by Martine Jardin is nice and I like the visuals of the characters.

Sales Links: eXtasy Books | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 112 pages

Published: February 23, 2018 by eXtasy Books

Edition Language: English

Series: Mojave Mountain Wolves #1

Kim Fielding on Writing, Influences, and her new release A Full Plate (author interview and guest blog)

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A Full Plate by Kim Fielding
Dreamspinner Press

Cover Art: Bree Archer
A Dreamspun Desire Novel

Sales Links

Dreamspinner PressAmazon 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Kim Fielding here today talking about writing, characters and her latest release in the Dreamspun Desires line from Dreamspinner Press, A Full Plate.  Welcome, Kim.

✒︎

 

~ Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Kim Fielding ~

Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

I love doing research. Partly because I’m a great big nerd, partly because it’s an occupational hazard of my day job (university professor). Also, it really annoys me when the smallest details aren’t right.

Even when I make up an entire world, I do research to back it up. Imaginary universes feel a lot more real when they bear similarities to ours. That doesn’t mean I can’t embroider on reality—that’s the creative part—but the foundation is often based on what’s really out there. For example, the city of Tellomer exists only in my novel Brute, but to build it, I did a lot of research on medieval cities and castles. The town of Rattlesnake is fictional too, but it’s based on some real places in California gold rush country, and it has such substance in my head that I once honestly forgot Mae’s Café isn’t real (and was disappointed with the realization).

Even a contemporary novel set in a real place requires research. For A Full Plate I looked up a lot of stuff about cooking, private jets, and the logistics of creating flying cars, among other things. I even went on a tour of the Tesla car factory!

Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?

Not exactly, although I have occasionally found it difficult to progress with my writing. The hardest book I’ve ever written is one I’m ultimately very proud of: The Tin Box. I had a hard time with that one in the beginning because the protagonist, William, isn’t very likable at that point. I knew why he wasn’t likable, and I understood it. I also knew that eventually he’d blossom and we’d learn what a good man he truly is. But there at the beginning? I kind of wanted to throttle him.

But a later part of that book was even worse. Not to be too spoilerish, but I had to do something terrible to a secondary character. That thing had to happen; no way around it. But man, I dreaded that part, and every word was like ripping out a piece of my heart. Sob. I think the results are worth the pain, but my characters feel very real to me, and I honestly suffered. It didn’t help to know that what happened to my fictional person actually happened to thousands of very real human beings.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I like both. Now, to be honest, my guys often go through a good bit of suffering during the story. Even in A Full Plate, which is relatively light on angst, Tully and Sage have serious struggles in their life. In the end, though, I want happiness. I mean, who doesn’t? And doesn’t that give us hope? I think that’s a good part of what draws readers to romance in the first place.

I don’t think I have a preference between HFN and HEA. Certainly an HEA is joyful and brings that warm feeling of completeness. But I also enjoy the bit of ambiguity inherent to an HFN, that sense that the story will continue, maybe with more potential conflict. That’s real life.

Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

As a young kid, I read a lot of classic science fiction. I veered more into other aspects of spec fic when I got older: horror, fantasy, magical realism. I found traditional romances somewhat limiting and didn’t really get into the genre until later, when I discovered m/m.

Although I read in many genres, the authors who’ve influenced me the most are the ones who are excellent writers. These folks have such a way with words that they can draw good storytelling out of even the simplest plots. Some of my very favorites include Isabel Allende, Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, Charles deLint, Stephen King, and Neil Gaiman. When I read these authors, I get a little envious of their skills, yet that envy inspires me to improve my own writing.

How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?

I have mixed emotions. On the one hand, I love the instant gratification of ebooks and the ability to obtain them in unlikely places. I’ve downloaded them on ships, on a train in Spain (yes, it was on a plain), and in hotels and apartments in many places in North America and Europe. Once I was sitting next to a woman on an airplane, and when she discovered mid-flight that I’m an author, she bought one of my books and began reading it right then and there on her Kindle! Of course, ebooks are also wonderful for reducing clutter, and I find them invaluable for travel. I also like how I can read a single book on multiple devices, depending on which one is handiest.

On the other hand, I love print books. I like to browse them and enjoy their full-sized covers in all their colorful glory. I like the feel of them and even the smell of them. I like giving them away and buying used ones. All the ebook catalogs in the world will never satisfy me like a brick-and-mortar bookstore does. Or a public library. (A shout-out to Little Free Libraries too.) And print books never run out of batteries.

I think we’ll see ebooks increase their dominance. They’re just so easy for consumers, and they reduce production and distribution costs so much for publishers. I am troubled by some aspects of the market, however, including Amazon’s near monopoly (I have a love-hate relationship with the Zon), the poor quality of many ebooks, and reduced profits for authors and publishers. I hope we see improvements in those areas.

If you write contemporary romance, is there such a thing as making a main character too “real”?  Do you think you can bring too many faults into a character that eventually it becomes too flawed to become a love interest?

I love flawed characters, and I believe that no matter how imperfect we are, every one of us deserves love. In fact, I think that’s a central theme to most of my stories.

One thing that kept me from enjoying traditional romances, back in the day, was that I found the characters too perfect. They were all beautiful and brilliant (well, except some of the women, frankly, who I found depressingly dim-witted) and rich. I had a hard time relating. So when I began writing, I made a deliberate choice to make my people more human. Even when they’re wealthy and handsome, like Tully in A Full Plate, they have real problems. In Tully’s case, that includes a past with unsupportive family and a present in which he struggles to make emotional connections.

Unless a character is cartoonishly awful, I think love is always a real possibility. I even love villains. And redemption makes for a wonderful character arc.

   

Ever drunk written a chapter and then read it the next day and still been happy with it?  Trust me there’s a whole world of us drunk writers dying to know.

I don’t drink often, and I very rarely get drunk, mostly because I’m too big of a control freak to enjoy it. However, I do frequently do my writing very late at night, after a long day, when my eyes are bleary and my brain is desperately wanting to go offline. I think the resulting writing is a little bit as if I were drunk. The grammar and spelling tend to suffer—sometimes neither spellcheck nor I have any idea what I was trying to say—but I do find myself making some creative leaps. And I usually keep those.

 

If you could imagine the best possible place for you to write, where would that be and why?

A really nice hotel someplace very interesting, where I can look up from my writing and enjoy a sweeping view. When I need a writing break, I can take a few steps outside my room to find myself on a secluded tropical beach or in the midst of a fascinating city—where I can walk for a while to refresh my body and brain. I can choose to eat at delicious restaurants or order room service. I can sleep in and stay up late—that’s when I’m most creative—and there are few interruptions and little noise.

Ahhh.

 

 

What’s next for you as a writer?

This is a really busy year for me. I have two more releases from Dreamspinner this year. Blyd and Pearce will come out this summer; it’s a noir private-eye gay romance in a medieval fantasy setting. Then The Spy’s Love Song releases in October. That’s another Dreamspun Desires title, this time about a jaded rock star and the spy he falls for. In May, I’ll have the third novella in The Bureau series, Creature. And Joel Leslie will be recording an audiobook version of all three novellas, which I’m really excited about. I’m also planning a light Christmas fantasy set in the 1880s. And I’m working now on the third book in the Love Can’t series.

***

A Full Plate by Kim Fielding

Opposites come together for a spicy surprise.

Bradford “Tully” Tolliver has everything—money, a great car, a beautiful condo, and a promising career as one of Portland’s hottest young lawyers. Sure, he puts in long hours and has no social life to speak of, but who needs romance when corporations pay top dollar for his expertise? He hesitates when a colleague asks if her cousin can live with him, but the arrangement will last less than a year, and then the cousin—Sage Filling—will return to his tiny hometown.

But Sage is handsome and intriguing, and his cooking makes Tully swoon. Sage has obligations back home, though, and Tully has offers he might not refuse from a persistent—and very wealthy—ex. Since Tully and Sage each have a full plate, can they make room for a side of love?

***

About the Author

Kim Fielding is the bestselling author of numerous m/m romance novels, novellas, and short stories. Like Kim herself, her work is eclectic, spanning genres such as contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, and historical. Her stories are set in alternate worlds, in 15th century Bosnia, in modern-day Oregon. Her heroes are hipster architect werewolves, housekeepers, maimed giants, and conflicted graduate students. They’re usually flawed, they often encounter terrible obstacles, but they always find love.

After having migrated back and forth across the western two-thirds of the United States, Kim calls the boring part of California home. She lives there with her husband, her two daughters, and her day job as a university professor, but escapes as often as possible via car, train, plane, or boat. This may explain why her characters often seem to be in transit as well. She dreams of traveling and writing full-time.

Follow Kim:

Website: http://www.kfieldingwrites.com/

Facebook: http://facebook.com/KFieldingWrites

Twitter: @KFieldingWrites

Email: Kim@KFieldingWrites.com

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bau3S9

A complete list of Kim’s books: http://www.kfieldingwrites.com/kim-fieldings-books/

Review Tour and Giveaway for Soul To Keep (Rented Hearts #2) by Garrett Leigh

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Length: 62,000 words
 
Cover Design: Black Jazz Design
 
Rented Heart Series
 
Rented Heart (Book #1) – Universal Buy Link
 
Blurb
 

Recovering addict Jamie Yorke has returned to England from California. With no home or family to speak of, he sticks a pin in a map and finds a small town in the Derbyshire Peak District. Matlock Bath is a quiet placeóhe just needs to get there, keep his head down, and stay clean. Simple, right? Until a chance meeting on the flight home alters the course of his so-called life forever.


Ex-Army medic Marc Ramsey is recovering from life-changing combat injuries while pulling nights as a trauma specialist at the local hospital. Keeping busy is a habit he canít quit, but when Jamieóso wild and beautifulóbursts into his life, working himself into the ground isnít as compelling as it used to be.


?Marc falls hard, but chaos lurks behind Jamieís fragile facade. Heís winning his battle against addiction, but another old foe is slowly consuming him. Both men have weathered many storms, but the path to the peace they deserve might prove the roughest ride yet.

 

April 3 – The Novel Approach
April 9 – My Fiction Nook
April 16 – OMG Reads
 

Garrett Leigh is an award-winning British writer and book designer, currently working for Dreamspinner Press, Loose Id, Riptide Publishing, and Fox Love Press.


Garrett’s debut novel, Slide, won Best Bisexual Debut at the 2014 Rainbow Book Awards, and her polyamorous novel, Misfits was a finalist in the 2016 LAMBDA awards.


When not writing, Garrett can generally be found procrastinating on Twitter, cooking up a storm, or sitting on her behind doing as little as possible, all the while shouting at her menagerie of children and animals and attempting to tame her unruly and wonderful FOX.


Garrett is also an award winning cover artist, taking the silver medal at the Benjamin Franklin Book Awards in 2016. She designs for various publishing houses and independent authors at blackjazzdesign.com, and co-owns the specialist stock site moonstockphotography.com with photographer Dan Burgess.

Giveaway

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Review Tour and Giveaway for Captain Merric by Rebecca Cohen

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Cover Design: Garrett Leigh @ Black Jazz Design
 
Length: 55,000 words approx.
 
Blurb



A tale of pirates, lost love, and the fight for a happy ending.


After he’s set adrift and left to die by his mutinous crew, the last person Royal Navy officer Daniel Horton expects to come to his rescue is Captain Merric. An infamous pirate, Merric is known as much for stealing his victims’ hearts as their jewels. Daniel’s world is about to be turned upside down when he recognises Captain Merric as none other than Edward Merriston, someone he thought he’d never see again.
Edward can’t believe Daniel Horton is aboard his ship. While Edward is willing to do anything he can to get a second chance at their happy ending, Daniel isn’t interested in digging up the past. But Daniel is one priceless treasure Captain Merric isn’t about to let go of without a fight.


Captain Merric first appeared as short story in a pirate-themed anthology. Now completely rewritten and extended he is ready to set sail again.



April 6 – Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words
April 9 – Open Mind For A Different View
April 10 – The Novel Approach
April 11 – Cupcakes & Bookshelves, Making It Happen
April 12 – Diverse Reader
April 13 – Two Chicks Obsessed
April 14 – MM Good Book Reviews
April 16 – My Booked Filled Life, Mirrigold: Mutterings & Musings, Velvetpanic, BooksLaidBareBoys, Bayou Book Junkie
April 17 – Love Bytes

 

Author Bio


Rebecca Cohen is a Brit abroad. Having swapped the Thames for the Rhine, she has left London behind and now lives with her husband and young son in Basel, Switzerland. She can often be found with a pen in one hand and a cup of Darjeeling in the other.


Blog: http://rebeccacohenwrites.wordpress.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rebecca.cohen.710
Twitter: http://twitter.com/R_Cohen_writes

Giveaway: Drop a comment below to tell me why you love pirates and be entered into the giveaway to win a copy of an ebook from my backlist (excluding the Crofton Chronicles bundle).

 

Read Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words review here.  We highly recommend it.

 

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